Local production company BIZZAY had a recent press screening for their first feature length film. “Chance” tells the story of a homeless man struggling to put his life back together after reuniting with an old friend.
The film centers on Chance, played by Tristan Heil, an aspiring actor who’s found himself homeless on the streets of Anchorage. While struggling to survive, he meets his old high school friend Manny, played by Sebastian Baquero. With Manny’s help, Chance starts to pursue his acting career, albeit with struggles along the way.
“Chance” touches on issues relating to homelessness, alcoholism and relationships. While the subject matter can be heavy at times, the film sprinkles in doses of unexpected comedy between the drama.
Shooting took place over the course of seven days while the BIZZAY team, who are University of Alaska students, were on their winter break. It was the biggest project they have worked on to date. Most of the BIZZAY crew had multiple jobs during the film’s production, while juggling school and other life responsibilities.
Founding member of BIZZAY and co-director of “Chance” Zayn Roohi helped with or was in charge of almost every aspect of the film from shooting to editing to post production. He’s a mechanical engineering major at UAF and shooting had to work around his tight schedule.
“I was like, ‘Alright, there’s 80 pages in the script, eight days — we’ll do 10 pages a day.’ And it was completely awful. I don’t recommend it,” Roohi said.
Shooting got done earlier than expected, but the days were long and the crew often had to shoot from the hip, figuratively speaking. There was even a last minute change to the ending of the film.
“Chance” was written by BIZZAY’s creative director Norberto De Jesús Jr. who also co-directed and composed the film score.
“The entire filming process was intense, stressful, enjoyable — just all sorts of emotions going on,” said De Jesús, a business management major at UAA.
He said the hardest part of filming was dealing with the weather. Shooting from 10 a.m. to midnight and having actors work in subzero temperatures was grueling, but the shared vision helped them get through.
Like De Jesús, Baquero is a business management major at UAA and did more than just play a leading role. He’s also the director of business operations for BIZZAY and basically pitched in wherever he could during production.
While Alaska doesn’t have a full-blown film industry, it does have a tight-knit acting community. Baquero said he hopes that by doing projects like “Chance,” they can help build the film industry and community.
“People here in Alaska — we’re all pioneers here, we’re all trail blazers, especially in that film industry,” Baquero said. “And, if we all come together and collaborate and put something on paper and put something on the screen, that industry is going to get established before we know it. We’re going to be making big changes here in Anchorage. We’re going to be building that industry here together as a community.”
“Chance” will have a full premier towards the end of this year with plans to take it on the road.